A mother of two accused of running a ring of call girls through an online escort agency told a court: ‘My two favourite things in the world are money and sex.’
Marie McKinlay allegedly controlled a £500,000-a-year business employing 25 women offering everything from ‘girlfriend experience’ to ‘porn star experience’.
The 40-year-old ex-escort and alleged brothel madam is said to have used the profits to put her daughters through private school and pay the £1,500-a-month rent on her four-bedroom home.
Asked why she had become an escort, McKinlay told Southwark Crown Court: ‘I’ve been asked this question many times and the way I answer it is, my two favourite things in the world are money and sex, I absolutely love both of them, and a job that allows me to put them both together, why wouldn’t I?’
She said she had been able to meet ‘a class of gentlemen I’d never met before’ which included ‘wealthy people... not just wealthy people, people who worked in certain careers, like the City.
‘It opened me up to meeting a broader spectrum of people than I had met before. I had a couple of trips to Dubai, Paris, Geneva, staying in five star hotels, places that, had I not been doing this job, I could not afford to go to. I saw a different side of life. I saw a life I wanted to see.’
The court was told that some escorts who worked for McKinlay were known porn stars and the business was a front for a lucrative brothel which made her £350,000 in two and a half years and financed an ‘expensive lifestyle’.
McKinlay said she began working as a hostess in her mid-twenties at the Stork Club in Piccadilly following a stint as a wardrobe assistant in the West End.
She said she left the gentlemen’s club because she ‘got sick of the drinking’, telling jurors she ‘had to drink only champagne’ from 9pm to 2am every day.
She added that she then worked as an escort both independently and for a woman based in South Kensington before setting up Allure.
She said that by 2003 she was the only remaining founder member and, following the birth of her first child, had taken over running the administrative side. ‘When I realised I was pregnant I had to stop,’ she said. ‘I was already doing all the admin so we agreed that’s what I would keep doing.’
McKinlay, of Frome, Somerset, denies controlling prostitution for gain and converting criminal property between December 2008 and July 2011. The trial continues.